LOUDONVILLE — Grace Vermilya and her Loudonville teammates may be the best kept secret in north central Ohio, but that’s likely to change soon.
The Redbirds are likely to blow their cover if they keep pounding opponents into submission and piling up one-sided victories.
Loudonville ran its record to 15-0 over the weekend with a resounding 67-33 win over Mansfield Christian. The Redbirds average nearly 70 points a game and boast four starters who average more than 10 points a night including Vermilya, a 5-foot-11 senior center who coach Tyler Bates calls one of the most skilled post players in the state. Vermilya averages 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and two blocked shots a game and scored her 1,000th career points in a win over Northwestern last month.
Vermilya’s younger sister, freshman guard Corri, averages 17.5 points and 12.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 4.1 steals a game. Junior sharpshooter Shalen Guilliams is good for 14.1 points a night and knocked down seven 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 23 points in Saturday’s Mid-Buckeye Conference win at Mansfield Christian. Paige Race averages 10.4 points and a team-best 4.4 assists a game.
It all adds up to one of the most dominant small-school teams in north central Ohio. Loudonville has won its first 15 games, on average, by 30.6 points.
“I’m really happy with how these girls have handled this season,” said Bates, who is 128-53 since taking over the program in 2013. “We asked them to do things, from a COVID standpoint and from a basketball standpoint, and they’ve never wavered. They’ve never second-guessed us and we think that’s one of the reasons they’re 15-0 right now.”
The Redibrds are 15-0 despite the loss to graduation of career scoring leader Emily Seboe. The former Loudonville standout is averaging 5.4 points a game for Huntington (Indiana) University.
“We had to replace perhaps the best player in school history in Emily Seboe,” Bates said. “We had three new additions to the starting lineup in Sydney (Snyder), Shalen and Corri and a totally remade bench.”
The younger Vermilya scored 25 points in a season-opening win over Lexington has never looked back. She is the only freshman on a roster that includes four seniors, a junior and four sophomores.
“Corri had 28 points in one of our scrimmages and we told our seniors, ‘Corri can either help our team if you let her be her or we can have chemistry issues and not reach our potential,’ ” Bates said. “All four of our seniors want to win games. As long as Corri is playing hard and sharing the ball, they’re thrilled by the addition of her to our team.”
As good as they Vermilya sisters have been, they’ve had plenty of help. Guilliams has connected on 51 of 143 3-pointers (36 percent) while Race is 26 of 78 from beyond the arc (33 percent). Snyder averages almost five rebounds a game to go with 5.7 points a night.
“It all starts with the girls willingness to share the basketball,” Bates said. “Nobody on the team questions a teammate when a shot goes up. They know how hard they have worked and if they are open, we encourage them to shoot.”
Loudonville is rapidly closing in on its fifth straight Mid-Buckeye Conference crown. The postseason is right around the corner and the only thing missing from Bates’ impressive résumé a district title. Loudonville dropped a 51-50 heart-breaker to Chippewa in the 2019 district championship game in Wooster and was eliminated in the district semifinals last year.
“That is motivation for these girls,” Bates said. “We understand that the tournament is coming soon, but the girls are approaching it one game at a time. We want to get better every day.
“We say that we are going to chop wood and carry water every day. We figure if we just work hard that good things will happen.”